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Reviews > Clothing > Jackets > GoLite Paradigm Jacket > Test Report by Andrew Buskov

 
GoLite Paradigm Jacket
GoLite's new wind and water repelling soft shell.
Andrew Buskov

GoLite Paradigm FrontInitial Report - April 16, 2007
Field Report - July 1, 2007
Long Term Report - August 27, 2007

Tester Biographical Information

Name: Andrew Buskov
Age: 32
Gender: Male
Height: 5 ft 9 in (1.75 m)
Weight: 211.5 lbs (99 kg)
Shoulder Girth: 48 in (122 cm)
Hip Girth: 44 in (112 cm)
Email: Rescue(at)Corridor9(dot)net
City, State Zip Madisonville, Kentucky  USA

Backpacking Background:

I started backpacking and quickly became hooked on the outdoors, hiking various environments from the green mountains of the Appalachians to the barren desert of Arizona. I enjoy the solitude of deep backcountry, and prefer colder weather but global warming is making that tougher all the time. I’m usually a moderate weight hiker, but as an Emergency Medical Technician I’m trained to be prepared, so my pack usually weighs between 25 to 35 lbs (11 and 16 kg) while soloing, to 60 lbs (27 kg) when leading. Additional information about the author can be found at http://www.corridor9.net.

Product Information:

Paradigm Tag
Item: Paradigm Jacket
Manufacturer: GoLite
Website http://www.golite.com
Year of Manufacture: 2007
MSRP: $150.00
Actual Weight: XL
Listed Weight: L / 1 lb 0 oz (.45 kg)
Size: XL
Sizes Available: S, M, L, XL, XXL
Color: Rust 07
Available Colors Avocado 07, Grease, Rust 07
Burnt Orange, Lt Mediterranean Blue

Product Overview:

The Paradigm Jacket, with its new Trinity fabric, is GoLite's premier hooded soft shell jacket. It provides an excellent level of waterproofness with its seam taped construction, yet is exceptionally breathable thanks to the Trinity's characteristics. The jacket is designed to keep the rain out and includes an adjustable hood drawcord, reinforced visor, Velcro hood adjuster on the back,  and weather resistant zippers with large draft flaps. It has two exterior zippered pockets, and two interior drop pockets which can hold large items. In addition, the Paradigm is equipped for venting heat with two very large armpit vent zippers. These zippers allow direct access to the interior of the jacket without the fabric or mesh that impedes heat exchange like other jackets. Also included on the jacket are large Velcro cuffs for easy adjustment.

{From Packaging and Website}
Some of the additional features that are found in the Paradigm Jacket are:
  • Trinity 3-Layer fabric: stretch, waterproof, breathable
  • Two hand pockets
  • Adjustable, articulated hood w/ reinforced visor and hidden V notch cord lock
  • Taped seams
  • Brushed tricot hand warmer pockets
  • Velcro Cuffs

Initial Impression:

This item arrived in good condition, complete, and very neatly packaged within a plastic bag. Included in the packaging was the jacket, and a hangtag. Also included in the box was a GoLite Paradox Pants which will be used in conjunction with this jacket.

Zipper DiseaseAs soon as I got this package, I ripped into it with pure desire. The weather around home had been rainy for the past week and without a jacket to keep me dry I was getting soaked every time I went out of the house. I took a bit of time to read the hang tag and look over the jacket before getting all necessary weights and measures. I then slipped on the jacket and zipped it up. Unfortunately, the jacket that had been shipped to me must have had a defective zipper because from the first zip I got nothing but zipper disease. Zipper disease is what happens when the teeth above and below the zipper pull become detached as shown in the picture on the left. Mismatched TeethThis kept happening each time I zipped the jacket. I thought that maybe I wasn't placing the insert pin into the box far enough and tried to make sure that the zipper was fully seated before trying the pull. Finally, it stayed together, but unfortunately now the teeth wouldn't match up as shown in the picture on the right. I simply couldn't get the teeth to mesh the way they were supposed to without causing the zipper to separate south of the pull. After numerous tries I decided it was time to contact the manufacturer.

I called GoLite and started the process of getting a replacement jacket. I was put in touch with a CSR by the name of Kyle who was exceptionally helpful, respectful, and kind. I described the problem that I was experiencing to him and he walked me through the return process with no questions asked. The return process was quick and painless taking little more than 5 minutes for him to input my information into the computer and issue me a RMA number.

Sleeve Cuff and Velcro I received the new jacket about 4 days later and immediately checked out the zipper to see if it had the same problems as the initial jacket I was issued. While zipping was still a bit difficult, the teeth meshed up completely and I have yet to develop a case of zipper disease. However, it is my  impression that the main separating zipper used on the Paradigm jacket is too delicate. The teeth are exceptionally small  and make it difficult to zip properly unless a lot of care is taken to make sure everything is lined up. I will definitely keep an eye on this throughout the test period though, and may even try a bit of soap on the teeth to make it easier for them to mesh.

Other than the main zipper, I was unable to find any defects or damage to the jacket. All of the seams were sewn nice and tight as far as I could tell, and none of them seemed to be separating. Every seam was taped, and sometimes double taped, to provide a completely waterproof interior and eliminate any chance of water seeping through needle holes. Zippers are sewn nice and tight to the Trinity material, though not as tight as seen on the pants. This allows the zippers to slide more freely and make it easier to access the pockets.

Hood V NotchThe Paradigm is designed and stitched in such a way that the seams are relocated from points of contact while wearing a backpack. The entire shoulder and sleeve area is one piece of fabric making only the seam connecting the hood close to the shoulder. Other seams are located on the side and the back of the jacket. While most of the jacket is composed of large areas of fabric, the hood seems to be the area with the most stitching. Making the hood conform to the top of the head needed a great deal of stitching. As the seams are taped though, I do not foresee a problem with this.

There are a great number of little bells and whistles on this jacket ranging from the Velcro hood adjustment, down to the drawcord hem and its single handed adjustment mechanism. One of the items I found especially useful was the hidden V notch cord lock located on either side of the hood. Using these is simply a matter of pulling down on the drawcord as much as I'd like to tighten the hood, then pulling the drawcords back up to seat them into the V notch. This makes single handed hood adjustment a breeze. Even with gloves on I had no problem adjusting the hood.

Arm VentAlso incorporated into the jacket are extremely long armpit zippers that help facilitate the regulation of body heat. Unlike jackets by other manufacturers, the Paradigm's pit zippers are all about function. There is no mesh or fabric that connects the two sides of the vent hole, thus getting in the way of heat exchange. In addition, because there are two zipper pulls on the pit zipper, there are options to relocate the pulls if they interfere with any backpack straps. I'm really looking forward to testing how well this jacket feel in humid conditions with all the venting available.

Mp3 PocketThere are 4 pockets on this jacket. Two external pockets with a single zipper pull each, and two internal pockets which are not secured by a zipper. The two external pockets are big enough to comfortably hold my hands and small items like a whistle, lighter, or even small headlamp. The interior pockets are larger than the external pockets and are constructed in drop fashion with an open top. They are large enough to hold bigger items like gloves, small canisters for your stove, etc. There is even a small MP3 player pocket located inside the left drop pocket. I was curious where this was, and only stumbled upon it while examining the depths of the pockets. The web page states that the Paradigm includes a "MP3 player arm pocket", but apparently the arm idea was nixed and the pocket was relocated to the inside of the drop pocket.

As far as I can tell, the GoLite Paradigm jacket is exceptional in its design and construction when compared with other jackets I've tried. Its heavy duty yet lightweight fabric promises many days of dry comfortable hiking, and the included bells and whistles only serve to enhance the usability rather than detract from it. As one who likes listening to the rainfall, tasting the clean air, and feeling the drops cleanse me and my soul while hiking through the rain; I look forward to the upcoming spring showers with great anticipation.

I would like to thank GoLite and BackpackGearTest.org for allowing me to participate in this test.

Field Report - July 1, 2007

Field Locations:

While conditions around the area have been a bit dry over the past 2 months, I was still able to use this jacket five or six times. The first two trips were around town while running errands in the blowing wind and rain. The elevation for the area around town is roughly 400 ft (122 m), and temperatures for that day were around 72 F (22 C). The third trip was a jaunt to Savage Gulf in the South Cumberland Recreational Area. The elevation range for this area is 980 ft (299 m) to 1800 ft (549 m). The weather for this area was a bit colder with lows dipping down to 43 F (6 C) and highs in the mid 70's F (24 C). The was only a trace amount of precipitation and while I did have the opportunity to throw on the GoLite Paradigm Jacket, the Paradox Pants never made it out of the pack. The last two weeks I was able to use this jacket another two times during hard rain around town. This rain was so hard that it was bouncing off the ground and soaking the inside of the Paradox Pants that I was wearing.

Performance:

Me in the riverbedI've been very pleased with this jacket since my initial use. During the beginning of summer, we didn't see much rain; a bit of a dry spell hit the area. However, the past 3 weeks I've kept this jacket in the back seat of my Jeep as I've been caught off guard for a number of major storms lately. I've not had any issues with the zipper as I did in the beginning of the test period and although this jacket was a bit finicky when zipping at first it has loosened over time with repeated use. This past week I even took a stroll in a heavy downpour just for the fun of it. I was a bit concerned though when I took off the jacket. I could see wet spots on the material inside where the water had soaked through.  I'm definitely going to have to keep an eye on that over the next test period.

I'm still happy with the sizing and found that the jacket still fits well. After wearing this for a while now I found that the excess material that drapes down is better at protecting me from the environments than I initially thought. I would definitely recommend going to the next size up if you fall between sizes. The extra room allows me to move freely and not feel like I'm wearing a straight jacket. I also don't find as much material hanging around my arm as I thought in the beginning and I'm not sweating as bad as I thought either. The jacket stays right where it should even while donning and doffing my pack. I don't have to worry about the back riding up and getting water down my pants with the elastic drawcord that is in the hem.

As with the pants, the Paradigm Jacket fits and feels nice, even with nothing but a short sleeve shirt underneath. I don't feel any scratching or rubbing against my bare skin, and I have yet to develop any blisters around the shoulder area while wearing a pack. I hardly notice the tag that is in the collar, even when throwing this jacket over bare chest. Other than the material being a bit more stiff, I can't tell that the seams are taped while wearing these either. The zippers in the pits do wonders to cool me off during light rain showers, but don't let water in during hard pouring rains. I still like the fact that there is no material hindering heat transfer on the inside of the zipper area. I need only unzip the zipper and my bare skin is exposed. I have yet to be drenched in sweat like I would with other pieces of rain gear. While the hood is a bit big, I haven't found that it limits my vision at all. It took me a time or two to get the Velcro adjusted correctly for me. I find that I don't adjust the hood much during normal use, and only occasionally  adjust it after donning my pack.

The GoLite Paradigm jacket protects me from inclement weather extremely well. One storm comes to mind in particular. I was driving down the road on the way to my destination when the sky fell out. The visibility was so bad that most people were pulling off the road. I drove through a number of intersections that had water in excess of 18 inches deep within 5 minutes. Upon reaching my destination I donned my GoLite Paradox, tossed the hood over my head, and sprinted from the Jeep to the door. Even though it was a simple 20 ft (6 m) distance everything from waist down was soaked through, I didn't have a drop on my upper body.

This gear is very packable. I was able to stuff it into the little nooks and crannies of my 4800 cu in (79 l) pack for a 3 day hike. Yes... 4800 cu in (79 l) is a big pack for a 3 day hike, but I was also testing the Black Diamond Mesa two person tent which took up almost half the space inside my pack. I was still able to stuff the Paradox pants and Paradigm jacket near the top for emergency use. Although I haven't punched a hole in the material yet, I can say that I was at no time worried about pack contents punching a hole through this very heavy material. None of the drawcords have lost their elasticity, the snaps and Velcro still work like new, and the zipper is still functioning well.

I have yet to try cleaning this item, but if I continue to have water leaking through the material I will probably wash it and reapply DWR. I'll be sure to note this in the Long Term Report if this is necessary.

Long Term Report - August 27, 2007

Summary:

After noticing the water on the inside of the material during the Field Report phase, I wanted to get in a few more days of testing. Unfortunately, the weather has not been cooperating here for the past few months. We've had nothing but hot, dry days and nights for quite a while now. The few showers we did get were light and fast, nothing like the downpours we received during the spring and early summer months. While I carried this jacket in my jeep and my pack on a number of occasions when the clouds looked ripe with rain, I never had the opportunity to use it. Because of this, I have not been able to see if any water permeated the material as it appeared during the previous phase. Until I can verify water seeping through the material I am forced to assume that wetness found on the inside of the jacket either came from water entering the hood or perspiration from walking.

From what I've experienced so far, I can say that this jacket serves its purpose very well. The material is wonderful at blocking wind and keeping out rain. It has kept me warm on cold, wet, windy days and has kept me dry during some of the hardest rains I've seen in quite a while. I have yet to experience any kind of gear malfunction, and firmly believe that the issue with the zipper was an isolated incident. The Velcro still works well, the cord around the head isn't stretched out, the material is still in wonderful shape in spite of stuffing inside the nooks and crannies available in my pack. The seams are still in good condition, and I have yet to see any of the seam tape peeling away from the fabric.

In all, it has been a great article of clothing to test. Before I applied to test this jacket I didn't own a real piece of rain gear. I had a packable jacket that I used for protection, but I usually just trudged along toward my destination soaking wet after the rain soaked through the jacket. I always thought I was happy hiking in the rain, but until I experienced walking in the rain and remaining dry I never realized what I was missing. Now I don't get frustrated with raindrops running down my face constantly, or my shorts sagging and chafing me because they're soaking wet. I have always enjoyed hiking in the rain because of the peace it offered; nothing more than your thoughts and the white noise of the drops hitting the forest floor. However, I now have more patience, peace, and zeal for hiking in inclement weather. In short, I enjoy my hiking experience more because I remain dry. It's not all the time that I can say that a particular piece of gear made me a happier hiker, but this is definitely true about the GoLite Paradigm Jacket.

I'd like to thank GoLite and BackpackGearTest.org for allowing me to participate in testing the Paradigm Jacket.

Read more reviews of GoLite gear
Read more gear reviews by Andrew Buskov

Reviews > Clothing > Jackets > GoLite Paradigm Jacket > Test Report by Andrew Buskov



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